Crib Sheet: Padmasree Warrior, CTO of Cisco Systems

Cisco‘s big announcement recently about how its new product was going to change the Internet for the better got the tech community very excited–not to mention the financial world, as the company’s share price rose to a 52-week high.

Padmasree WarriorCisco‘s big announcement recently about how its new product was going to change the Internet for the better got the tech community very excited–not to mention the financial world, as the company’s share price rose to a 52-week high. And then, yesterday, they launched the thing–a datacenter-level router that should give mobile Internet a bit more “poke.” But for some time, Fast Company has known that, for Cisco’s shares to go through the proverbial roof, would be somehow to clone its CTO, the absolutely brilliant Padmasree Warrior, and make her available in every home.


Ms. Warrior (who recently said on Twitter that if she’d had a choice in her own name, it would have been “The”) truly is the future of the tech industry. Basically, she’s the human face of all those big, swinging tech players who we all revere but somehow wonder just how normal they are. A working mother, she was born in India and moved to the U.S. after gaining a BS at the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi. Just 16 at the time, she describes it as the major transition of her life, “more than being CTO of Cisco or coming to the U.S., because I was very young.”

“I visualize work and family as incongruent and in conflict with each other. It’s tough, but I try to maintain this seamless integration (of family, community, self and work.)” She’s on the board of Chicago’s Joffrey Ballet and the Museum of Science and Industry, and holds a bunch of directorships. She spends her free time (just how much has she got these days?) with her family and friends, and, given that’s she’s gone on record as saying she likes going to concerts, we thought we’d spice up her Crib Sheet with a bunch of lyrics. Extra points to commenters who can identify the artists.

This is Major Tom to ground control, I’m stepping through the door, And I’m floating in in the most peculiar way: “I am still commuting back and forth, my family lives in Chicago. Hopefully I will get more proficient in going back and forth between the two cities.” One thing that Cisco’s teleconferencing tech can’t solve, it seems.

Flew in from Miami Beach BOAC, Didn’t get to bed last night: Last month, Warrior was part of a U.S. delegation to Russia, alongside Ashton Kutcher and Jack Dorsey of Twitter, Rumors of Cisco Systems’ acquisition of ChatRoulette have yet to be substantiated–although we could start the ball rolling right here.

War, Hurghhh! What is it good for? Absolutely nothin’ (say it again): “Biological warfare debases my concept of humanism.”

Three (Is the magic number): The most influential people in her life are her parents and her husband. “My Mom taught me the power of love. I learned to focus on the long-term big picture from my father. His sense of humor and light-hearted approach always make me smile. My husband is a pivotal anchor in my life. His influence encourages me to be independent and take risks.”


Years go by, I’m lookin’ through a girly magazine, and there’s my homeroom angel on the pages in between: “If I had to pick three of my favorite magazines they would be Fast Company, Silicon India, and Smithsonian.

Got no butler, Got no maid, Still I think I’ve been overpaid: “I would have dinner with P.G. Wodehouse. I have read all of his books at least ten times over. I am a great fan of his character Jeeves, the English Gentleman’s perfect valet. His intellectual brilliance and audacious sense of humor fascinate me. Dinner with P.G.W. sounds simply scrumptious.”

Buy it, use it, break it, fix it, Trash it, change it, mail – upgrade it: “Tech is all about building human connections.”

Let me sleep all night in your soul kitchen, warm my mind near your gentle stove: “It seems in my home all important decisions are made in the kitchen:) Is the kitchen the center of gravity in your home?”

On your video phone, make a cameo, tape me on your video phone, I can handle you: “I’m most excited by the evolution of entertainment and content over the next five years. In the past five years we saw it go from passive consumption to on demand, and going forward it’s always on demand and that’s where the mobile comes in. The screen is going to be with you, no matter where you are.”

Face to face my lovely foe, mouth to mouth, raining heaven’s blows: “If we had our way, [a virtual World Economic Forum] would be a year or so [away.] But in some cases, you really do need to meet and talk.”


About the author

My writing career has taken me all round the houses over the past decade and a half--from grumpy teens and hungover rock bands in the U.K., where I was born, via celebrity interviews, health, tech and fashion in Madrid and Paris, before returning to London, where I now live. For the past five years I've been writing about technology and innovation for U.S.